Viennale 2016 – Day 2: Hidden Reserves (Stille Reserven)

stille-reservenStille Reserven
Austria 2016
Written by Valentin Hitz
Directed by Valentin Hitz
Watched on 21.10.2016

While Austria isn’t quite such a desert wasteland when it comes to genre movies as Germany, we hardly ever have a try at science fiction. So when such an attempt finally surfaces, that already is a big plus, at least from my point of view as an Austrian as well as a huge fan of the genre. I also really liked how international “Stille Reserven” looked. If it weren’t for the setting in a futuristic Vienna, this might as well have come directly out of Hollywood. The acting, the look of the movie, the cinematography, the digital color grading… all of that made it look and feel very American. Mind you, I don’t mind Austrian movies that wear their local origin on their sleeve, but it’s nice to see that if we want to, we’re also capable of making a movie that visually doesn’t have to hide away from the international competition. The setting also was quite nice, and – even though I don’t claim to know every SF-story ever written, or film ever made – also seemed quite fresh and original to me. I liked this vision of a futuristic Vienna, and the first third of the movie was quite promising.

Unfortunately, the more the movie progressed, the more it fell apart for me. It already starts with the central idea of selling and buying “death insurance”. Yes, it might be a rather new and imaginative idea, but unfortunately, since I personally couldn’t care less about what will happen to and with my body once I’ve died, it didn’t really have an impact on me. Thus, the dystopian part of the movie fell a little flat for me. I could appreciate it from an academic point of view, but didn’t find it particularly abhorrent. Also, as the story progresses, it gets quite clichéd and thus predictable, and also rather boring. A couple of scenes seem superfluous, and some also went on for far too long. I also didn’t really feel any connection to the characters. And the music was a little repetitive, and even though in itself it was quite nice, many a time it didn’t really fit the images and the content all too well. Add to that the fact that the movie needed some huge coincidences here and there to progress in the way the filmmakers wanted it to, and you have a movie that, unfortunately, wastes a lot of its potential. Nevertheless, it was nice to see an original science fiction-film from Austria, and I hope that there will be more of those in the future – and also, that they will fare better than this laudable, but ultimately unsatisfying attempt.


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